Tech Tuesday…Depth Of Field Part 4

We’ve pretty much covered most of the factors that affect depth of field…Aperture, Focal Length and Distance. What do we do when the laws of physics simply don’t add up to the numbers we are trying to make an image? We have chosen the appropriate lens, composed the frame, closed out lens all the way down and we just can’t get enough depth of field. Not only that, there is a slight breeze so, that small aperture is giving us a slow shutter speed and we are getting subject movement. Do we pack up our equipment and chalk one up to the photo gods as winning? Or, do we look in our bag of tricks and pull out Helicon Focus software? I for one vote for the software. I must have wanted the image in the first place as I set it all up. I just couldn’t get the shot I wanted with the equipment I was using. So, with my tripod set up and the frame composed to my liking, I set the focus to manual and focused on the very front petal of the flower and I opened my aperture up (you heard right…I opened my aperture up) to 2.8 and set about shooting 24 frames focusing a little deeper into the flower with each click of the shutter. This gave me 24 images with various parts of the flower in focus. Here are three to give you an idea…


Middle Focus


Far Focus

Now, I’m not a glutton for punishment. I have no intention of painstakingly masking in the sharp areas one frame at a time. No, I’m going to let Helicon Focus do the heavy lifting for me. I simply launch the software, tell it to merge the 24 frames and I go make a cup of coffee while Helicon puts it all together…

All I had to do is add my own creative touch to finish the image off. I ran NIK Tonal Contrast, Glamour Glow with the glow reduced and Darken Lighten Center and I have the image that I saw in my minds eye when I clicked the shutter.

Image created with Nikon D2XS, AF-S 105mm 2.8 VR Micro on Lexar Digital Media.

Scott Kelby’s Worldwide PhotoWalk…Walk and Roll

Yesterday was the Third Annual Scott Kelby Worldwide PhotoWalk and it was an amazing day! We had a beautiful, sunny, slightly cool morning…that’s right, it was a beautiful day for a PhotoWalk in Portland. In all 42 people showed up (I invited the folks on the waiting list to come as I suspected someone would not be able to make it at the last minute)…

plus myself and my good friend Sharon O’Keefe (who is launching the Pacific Northwest Center for Photography in September) who I asked to co-lead the walk with me. We hardly got past the entrance before we were finding photo opps… (Sorry, Sharon. I couldn’t resist and it’s such a fun shot that shows your great sense of humor.)

Not only did she jump at the chance to do the PhotoWalk with me, it was her idea to go to Oaks Park Amusement Park for our Walk…Brilliant! What better way to have a fun PhotoWalk than at an amusement park. We not only visited the Park, Sharon got us clearance to come in early and join the maintenance men as they went about their morning duties checking each ride before the park opens. What a great group of guys. They graciously stopped to tell us the history of the park and run a ride for just a few more minutes to make sure everyone got a shot. I came with HDR, fun, funky, whimsical in mind and not only did I have a blast making the images in the camera, I had just as much fun letting it all hang out and processing them in any fun, zany way I could think of…

I pulled out all stops and if I could think it up, I tried it out. I used NIK Dfine 2.0, Color Efex Pro 3.0, Viveza 2.0 and Silver Efex Pro. I didn’t stop there…I also used OnOne FocalPoint 2.0, PhotoTools 2.5 and PhotoFrame 4.5…

What you see are the results of our morning PhotoWalk. I fell in love with the Herschell-Spillman Carousel and worked it for quite some time…

I think I can safely say that everyone who came got into the mood of the morning and “played” with their inner child, camera in hand. It was a great way for everyone to spread our wings, try new techniques and approaches to both photography and the digital darkroom. The morning and the ensuing digital darkroom session invigorated me and when I sat back down to “work” I felt totally creative and refreshed.

I want to thank everyone who came filled with enthusiasm and eagerness to have a wonderful time (especially those who have joined me in the last couple of PhotoWalks) and a heartfelt thanks to my friend Sharon for helping to make it such a fun filled PhotoWalk at Oaks Park! I can hardly wait to see what everyone posts.

Images created with Nikon D3S, AF 16mm Fisheye, AF-S 24-70mm on Lexar Digital Media

“Gorge”ous Light

As a photographer, I am constantly out chasing light. I find beautiful light and look for something interesting to include in the frame. (A Joe McNally quote) Such was a recent outing to the Columbia Gorge to photograph the waterfalls. We stopped in at Crown Point and when we entered the building I was instantly drawn to the sunlight shining through the stained glass. It literally glowed. I liked the graphic lines of the diagonal staircase, the vertical rails and the horizontal bench drawing me through the frame. I moved in tight to create a very simple composition, all color and graphic lines and did a 5 frame bracket knowing I would be using all the exposures to create an HDR later in the digital darkroom. I used Photomatix Pro 3.0 to process the HDR and then used NIK Tonal Contrast and Glamour Glow as finishing touches…

It’s not often that I see sunlight on the rock face at Multnomah Falls. It’s either overcast or the wrong time of the year. Thursday was both a beautiful, sunny day and a summer afternoon which meant we had light on the upper wall and falls. Once again, I had an exposure challenge capturing the detail of the upper falls in the light and the lower falls in shadow. I dialed in a 5 stop bracket and fired off five frames in rapid succession, hand held. A quick trip through Photomatix Pro 3.0 and into Photoshop CS5 where I used PhotoTools Professional 2.5 from OnOne Software Brush Brighter to brighten the lower falls and rock and then added Kyoko Punch with fade at 50…

The ever patient Emily who was seeing all this splendor for the first time was gazing off into the forest as I photographed yet another stream and as I turned to move on I saw the light falling on her face and saying “Hold that pose” I brought my camera to my eye, dialed in -1 exposure compensation to add some drama to the background forest and clicked off a half a dozen frames. Emily turned to me, smiled and moved a step forward and the moment was gone. I love this frame! The light falling on Emily’s face is simply, gorge-ous!…

Light is everywhere we look. Light has quality, quantity and direction. Finding that magical moment when the light falls on an interesting subject is what keeps me going out time and time again. On this day I chose one camera, one lens and a pocket full of CF cards.

Images created with Nikon D3S, AF-S 24-70mm 2.8 on Lexar Digital Media

Last Chance for 2010

Here it’s only August and yet all but one of my 2010 Adventures have filled. It just goes to show how many adventurous people there are out there. Are you looking for an “Excell”ent Adventure? How about spending a week photographing coastal brown bears with me in remote luxury in the Alaskan wilderness this fall? Contact me for more information. But, hurry, I’m sure the spot won’t last the day!

Alaska Coastal Brown Bears Sept 12-29 6 openings, 1 spot available
Polar Bears of Churchill FULL
Bosque del Apache FULL

The bears will be fat and healthy, fishing for any remaining salmon in the rivers, munching on berries and clamming as they rush to fatten themselves up for the long winter ahead.

I’ve got a few new and exciting “Excell”ent Adventures up my sleeve for 2011 so stay tuned!